Community members celebrate revitalized downtown area

Community members celebrate revitalized downtown area

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- The entrance to Downtown Lawton now has a new look thanks to the completion of the Second Street Enhancement Project.

The nine-million-dollar project began in 2008 with funding from grants, ODOT, and the city's capital improvement fund.

City officials said the project took nine years because they did not want to shut down the area all at once.

Lawton city council and community members celebrated the final phase of completion on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"It's the core door to Lawton coming in from Oklahoma City," said Les McKenzie, McKenzie's Burger Garage owner. "It's the first thing that everyone sees."

In between second and northwest Dearborn street is where you'll find McKenzie's Burger Garage.

McKenzie started his business as an auto repair company in 1941 and turned it into a restaurant in 2015.

He said since then he's seen great changes to second street.

"The lighting on the street is much better than what it was before," said McKenzie. "You can see the street we've got sidewalks. I've noticed a lot of people starting to walk up and down second street now. They used to never walk up and down second street. The roads are just they're nice. There's a lot more traffic now than there ever was."

Project manager Billy Tramel said current and new businesses along with residents will be positively by the improvement.

"They will get customers coming in here," said Tramel. "They will want to walk to their businesses from Elmer Thomas park. They can go from here, then down to the mall and be on sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. All of it is ADA compliant so there should be no handicap issues or roadblocks for them."

Which is exactly what Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch said Lawton's downtown area needed.

"It's opening up the beautification to our city," said Fitch. "We've had one of the ugliest entrances to our city for years and this is going to help beautify that along with the downtown project."

And McKenzie not only encourages people to visit his burger shop but also enjoy the new scenery of downtown.

"It's beautiful," said McKenzie. "I drive it every day and I'm just amazed how nice it is. It's a beautiful street. One of the nicest in Lawton."

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.